‘Small chance’ of gastro outbreak
There is only a “small” possibility of any outbreak of gastrointestinal disease as a result of the prolonged South Coast sewage spills.
That is the assurance coming from the Ministry of Health, which said several preventative measures had been put in place to manage and mitigate any potential risk to public health.
Acting Chief Medical Officer Dr Kenneth George, in a release yesterday, said that “at this point and time, based on updates and information reaching the ministry as shared by the Barbados Water Authority, the likelihood of any outbreak of gastrointestinal disease is small”.
He said the risk could be further reduced by members of the public remaining “extra vigilant” and taking appropriate preventative measures, including basic hand hygiene.
“That is, a minimum of 20 seconds of vigorous washing of hands prior to preparing food and after using the bathroom.”
George also advised business houses in the area to use bleach solutions (one tablespoon of bleach to one gallon of water) to sanitise all food surfaces, preparation areas and equipment.
Meanwhile, the ministry has increased the number of environmental health officers assigned to the affected areas to monitor food handling practices of businesses and households. It is also continuously testing the potable water supply to make sure it remains safe.
George said the ministry was in contact with polyclinics and private practitioners so as to quickly identify any new cases of gastrointestinal disease. He added the ministry was working closely with the Environmental Protection Department in respect of near-shore testing of beach water.
The Worthing Beach was deemed safe up to November 24 when testing was temporarily halted to allow for the relocation of the public health laboratory. Testing resumed on Monday. (JS/BGIS)